The Nevada bench will have another familiar face for Lobo men’s basketball fans next season.
Roman Martinez, one of the most popular former Lobos, certainly of the past decade, is one of several graduate assistants on the Wolf Pack coaching staff this season.
Martinez’s hiring was publicly confirmed before Wednesday when former Lobo coach and current Nevada head coach Steve Alford spoke about Martinez being on his staff during an extended video interview with Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray.
“Roman Martinez, he’s 30 years old and he’s leading my grad assistant program,” Alford said. “It’s great. We won a lot of games together at New Mexico and now he’s on my staff.”
Martinez was one of the leaders of the 2009-10 Lobos team that went 30-5 under Alford.
In that season, Martinez hit 99 3-pointers and was a career 40.4 percent 3-point shooter at UNM, where he scored 1,159 career points, had 632 rebounds and 201 assists. He was also a 2010 Academic All-American at UNM.
Martinez has played some professional basketball internationally since leaving UNM and has also run shooting clinics and the Pure Joy Basketball skill training team that teaches youth players shooting and basketball development.
Also on Alford’s staff is former UNM head coach Craig Neal and Alford’s son, Kory, a former Lobo walk-on.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS: As it has been for 17 of the league’s first 20 seasons, the Mountain West men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will remain in the Thomas & Mack Center through the 2023 season, the league announced on Wednesday.
While there has been pushback off and on through the years from coaches about the tournament, and the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, being at stake in the home arena of a league member (UNLV), the finances and lack of attendance when the even went to Denver for three years from 2004-2006 made the decision fairly clear that the event had to at least remain in Las Vegas, Nev., in the future.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena, however, was the landing spot that some league coaches wanted instead of the Thomas & Mack, but the “league’s Board of Directors approved a recommendation from an ad hoc committee made up of two athletic directors, two Senior Woman Administrators, two men’s basketball coaches and two women’s basketball coaches,” the league’s news release stated.
“Las Vegas has become a mecca for college basketball in early March and our MW fans have made it clear this is their preferred destination,” said MW Commissioner Craig Thompson in the release.
This season’s tournament is March 1-7.
The league gets financial help to stay in the Thomas & Mack from Las Vegas Events, though it has not released those numbers through the years.
“Las Vegas has had a long and storied history with the Mountain West,” said LVE President Pat Christenson in the news release.
The event has often averaged well over 10,000 fans per session many seasons in the Thomas & Mack and didn’t break 9,000 in any of the three seasons it was played in the Pepsi Center in Denver in 2004, 2005 (a year the Lobo men won) and 2006.
OLD FRIEND: On the importance of getting Neal back on his staff at Nevada, Alford told Nevada Sports Net: “Huge. A big step was trying to put the band back. Obviously I got an opportunity at UCLA, he got an opportunity to be (head coach) at New Mexico. New Mexico was a special place for us. We loved it. We loved everything about Albuquerque, about the university, about what we had built there. In my opinion, we did change the culture there academically. We had a very good six-year run together there. The fan base is incredible. The Pit is an awesome place to coach and play in.”
HSU ON THE MOVE: Former New Mexico State assistant coach Marc Hsu, who spent a couple months on staff with the Lobos in the spring of 2017 right after Paul Weir was hired but left for an assistant coaching job at Western Kentucky before ever coaching at UNM, is on the move again.
Multiple reports have indicated Hsu has accepted an assistant coaching job at DePaul, where he will work for head coach Dave Leito.